If only looking at the hit column, it would seem that No. 18 Oklahoma had done its job against the No. 13 Michigan baseball team. The Sooners held the Wolverines to just four hits, well below Michigan’s season average of 9.96 hits per game.
However, the Wolverines (6-3 Big Ten, 27-7 overall) found other ways to manufacture runs in their 5-2 win against Oklahoma (5-4 Big Twelve, 27-10 overall).
“Well you got to look at the number of guys on base,” said Michigan coach Erik Bakich. “Holding the zone and taking advantage of some mishaps by their starter – and their starter is a good pitcher. If we chased and did him some favors, he could have had a quality start today. We did a nice job of swinging at the right pitches or not swinging at the wrong ones.”
Headed into the matchup, the Wolverines knew they had their hands full, as Oklahoma ranks fourth in the country with 10.1 strikeouts per game, sixth with 6.95 hits allowed per nine innings and ninth with a 2.73 earned-run average.
“We like to say we treat every opponent the same, and we do,” said junior left-hander Oliver Jaskie. “When we play a good team we don’t do anything different, but everyone was definitely excited for this one, this was marked on our schedule.”
It’s easy to see why. The victory marked the first win against a ranked opponent for the Wolverines of the season.
After Jaskie pitched a one-two-three top of the first inning, Michigan tallied zero hits in the bottom half of the inning.
Yet the Wolverines still managed to score three runs, on five walks and a hit batter.
Sophomore second baseman Ako Thomas started the inning off with a walk and proceeded to steal second. Lugbauer walked two at-bats later. Then, redshirt sophomore Miles Lewis walked and so did Jake Bivens – scoring Thomas. Senior designated hitter Nick Poirier was then hit by a pitch, scoring Lugbauer. And in the next at-bat, sophomore right fielder Jonathan Engelmann walked to drive home the third and final run of the inning.
The very next inning, the Sooners responded with two hits to produce a run of their own, making it 3-1.
Through the first four innings, Michigan could manufacture only one hit. Following a leadoff walk in the fifth by senior centerfielder Johnny Slater, the Wolverines earned their second hit on a home run to dead center by Lugbauer, pushing the lead to four. The homer marked Lugbauer’s tenth of the season.
Oklahoma showed some fight though. The next inning, first baseman Austin O’Brien hit a solo shot that cleared the elevated wall in left field, cutting the score to 5-2. But, that would be the last run of the game for the Sooners.
While Michigan finished the game with just four hits, they managed eight walks and a hit by pitch for 13 total base runners.
Jaskie also returned to his typical form following a subpar start last Friday against Illinois. In seven innings pitched, Jaskie allowed just two runs on five hits and struck out six, his fifth win of the season.
“His outing couldn’t have gone worse last Friday,” Bakich said. “And to be able to pitch seven (innings) and only give up two (runs) was exactly what we needed and a good bounce back for him as well. It speaks to his character. He’s a kid who is extremely well trained, very mentally tough.”
Getting the first win of the series may prove the difference for the remainder of the series.
“It’s like a postseason atmosphere,” Lugbauer said. “To get a big win like that on a (Thursday) night is just good for our confidence going into our next two games.”